Mike Gonzalez


As the 2018 Arizona Taco Festival gets closer, the pace that organizer David Tyda runs at is nearly frenetic. I caught up with Tyda on Thursday afternoon during the calm before the taco storm. Tyda was meeting with vendors, making sure tents were set up correctly and praying that the weather holds out for the 9th year of this event. “We’re hear rain or shine and it’s going to be a great couple of days,” said Tyda.

9th Annual Arizona Taco Festival
9th Annual Arizona Taco Festival

With how fast he moves, it’s no wonder Tyda stays so slim, despite his love for tacos. “I always say tacos don’t make you fat being lazy does. I feel like I can eat as many tacos as I want as long as I keep moving,” Tyda said with a smile.

But with so much to do, there’s not much time to eat, when you’re preparing for the largest taco festival in world. “I like to think it’s the biggest taco party on Earth. We’re going into our 9th year now and every year we have served over 100,000 two dollar tacos. We apparently love our tacos here in the Valley. So we get as many teams as we can to compete for $10,000 and try to sell as many tacos as we can,” said Tyda.


Tyda started the Arizona Taco Festival nine years ago in Scottsdale. He never planned on event growing this big. It’s something he says expanded organically. “The first year of the festival we did the Scottsdale waterfront. We built it for 1,500 people and more than 10,000 people showed up. Now there’s over 100 taco festivals across the world. I’m not saying that any of them copy us. But a lot of them have lucha libre, chihuahuas and tequila expo so I like to think that this event is the one that sets the trend and is sort of the mother ship event,” said Tyda.


Tyda says there’s something for everyone… and there’s just about everything. “Over 100,000 two dollar tacos from more than 50 restaurants and food trucks, there’s luche libre wrestling shows, a huge kids zone, a margarita bars everywhere, there’s a stage with live bands with various taco eating contests, there’s a hot chili eating contest, there’s also a chihuahuas beauty contest on Sunday,” said Tyda.


What you’ll find at the Arizona Taco Festival is a massive variety. There’s 50 different vendors making tacos from all walks of life.
“That was the original vision of the festival is that tacos are the world’s most adopted and adaptable cuisine in the world. We have Pokitrition that is going to do sushi tacos, we’ve got Scottsdale Community College where students will be throwing down to learn how to work a festival, Chef Marcus’ Kitchen who’s a brand new caterer in town and then Vaqueros Carne Asada that’s a traditional drive thru carne asada joint, said Tyda.

There’s also plenty of adult beverages, entertainment and music!
“The heartbeat of the festival is the El Jefe’ bar, the Old Town bar will have plenty of great drinks and people having fun. You’ll find a VIP tent that comes with 10 tacos and six drinks and a nice shaded tent. That’s next to the tequila expo where 20 bucks to get into with 10 samples. On Sunday it’s turns into the margarita expo. The main stage will have live music both Saturday and Sunday,” said Tyda.


Hispanic Food Network paid a visit to Modern Margarita in North Phoenix to see what’s on the menu for this year’s Arizona Taco Festival. Assistant GM Grace White says they’ll have a few new twists this year. We’re entering our green chili chicken taco, Poblano taco, the cactus vegetarian and charred albacore,” said White. Modern Margarita has reason to be confident at their chances. “Our pork taco has won first place, our carne asada taco has been 2nd and our chicken has been 3rd in past years,” said White. I can tell you first hand their carne asada tacos are worth the visit up to North Phoenix for a try. “I think we will win but I’m bias,” said White with a smile.”


“I don’t know if we can get any bigger. We’ve kind of maxed out here at Salt River Fields. But that’s okay with me because at some point you just get too big. We now have this event down logistically. As a producer of these shows we want our guests to have the best experience and I think we’ve accomplished that. I’m so upset I have to work this event. I just want to come out and have fun and have a Margarita and eat some tacos. So as long as we keep this event a place myself and my business partner want to be a part of, then we’re doing something right,” said Tyda.


Tyda says with 20,000 people coming to munch on tacos you want to be prepared. “Make sure to go to our website and click on the information link,” said Tyda.

There’s everything you need to know about parking, how to get here and this year we even have an Uber station in case you’ve been drinking because we want everyone to be safe and have a good time,” said Tyda.

As our interview with David Tyda wrapped up. I just couldn’t help to ask what his favorite taco is. But that’s a complex question for a guy who’s built the biggest taco party in the country. “Oh I can’t answer that,” Tyda said with a smile. “It really depends on the day. Sometimes it’s the El Pastor with the grease dripping down your elbow. Sometimes it a fish taco with you toes in the sand drinking a Corona. Sometimes it’s a crunchy taco,” said Tyda.

Yes spoken like true taco politician, but this is one guy who’s delivered on his taco promises.
“Always vote tacos,” said Tyda with a laugh.

Mike Gonzalez
Author: Mike Gonzalez

HFNTV is the creation of journalist, food blogger and influencer Mike Gonzalez. Mike is a full-time news anchor at KPNX NBC 12 in Phoenix, Arizona.